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Full Review of the T-Mobile G1 Android Device 135

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the gadget-lust-is-a-powerful-force dept.
palmsolo writes "Want to see the biggest and most in-depth review of the T-Mobile G1 Google Android device from a person who has been using it for a week? Check out over 260 photos and 5 videos of the device and just about every screen of the Google Android OS. Find out how well HTC, T-Mobile and Google did with this first-generation device." I played with one for a few minutes and found it a solid unit. It feels less polished than the iPhone, but the screen and keyboard are great. It'll be a real test of Open Source to see what happens with the iPhone App Store's closed system vs. Android's open one.
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Full Review of the T-Mobile G1 Android Device

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  • Not quite so open (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:22AM (#25398601)
  • Re:Less Polished (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThinkingInBinary (899485) <thinkinginbinary@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:33AM (#25398741) Homepage

    Im still slightly in the gray about the open-ness of the android platform. Everywhere I've looked has said that Android is open but the official website under "Will Android work on [insert phone here]" Only gives the SDK emulator rather than an HCL.

    So, Android needs to be ported, like any OS. Mobile phones, in particular, have very specific hardware. If you tried to put the OS from the G1 onto another phone, you'd need to add drivers for the other chips on it, especially things like the cellular baseband chip, and the hardware for things like audio input/output, LEDs, etc. It's sort of like RockBox in that it requires a large chunk of work to be ported. They initially ran on only one device, but, over time, gained additional compatibility.

  • by jsharkey (975973) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:38AM (#25398813)

    A few people have put together a list of all the apps observed in Market to date [androidcommunity.com].

    I'm sure this will flood with even more over the next week when they open the developer portal. Oh yea, and I reverse engineered the iTunes remote control protocol and released an Android client GPL'ed: http://dacp.jsharkey.org/ [jsharkey.org]

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:44AM (#25398913)

    1) Some phones will lockdown the kernel, some might allow you to replace the kernel.

    2) Android drivers are open source, but vendors might throw in binary blobs (particularly for cell phone functionality).

    3) They use their own custom GUI toolkit and display -- not X, not GTK, not QT, not swing.

    4) The app store, sdk, etc are built for java. If you have a phone that isn't locked down, you could probably put native code on it, with some work.

    5) Also, they use a custom jdk (and libraries), so the java apps have to be built specifically for android

    6) Android is the distro. The app store is the package manager

    7) The app store will be able to check for updates to installed apps

    8) Debian can be used on some ARM and SH-based smart phones.

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:49AM (#25398973)

    You can bet that they're going to kill any app that enables tethering, or VoIP calls; the phone is totally open, as long as you don't compete with T-Mobile's other (profitable) services. Sounds more and more like the iPhone store...

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:3, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @09:59AM (#25399151) Homepage Journal

    Are all of the drivers open source?

    Most probably not. The baseband chipsets that provide the network interface tend to be very, very proprietary, for example.

    Is the desktop open? Which widget toolkit does it use - can you run gtk/qt/x apps on there?
    Can you compile real apps or just Java?

    I think you can probably compile anything you like, provided you have the appropriate cross-compiler and emulation environment and you can shoehorn the libraries onto the device.

    Is there any chance of a proper distribution like Ubuntu being ported to this thing?

    Ubuntu is working on their own mobile devices [ubuntu.com].

    If anyone knows anything different from what I just said, feel free to correct me.

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:5, Informative)

    by OglinTatas (710589) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @10:28AM (#25399595)

    Here is a bigger problem:
    "Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement ... in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion."

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/16/android_kill_switch/ [theregister.co.uk]

    That is a show stopper. I'm still rooting for Openmoko.

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @10:30AM (#25399635)
    No, as in your cellphone connects over WiFi and any new calls are completely free. There's no need for an ATA, no need for a different handset, no complicated call forwarding setup, you just connect to WiFi and you cellphone becomes a free VoIP phone with your normal number and cellphone features.
  • by thisisauniqueid (825395) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @10:44AM (#25399851)
    Google have already discussed this. The bluetooth stack simply wasn't ready in time, so they removed it. There will be full bluetooth support soon.
  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cornelius the Great (555189) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @10:46AM (#25399885)
    From the article:

    The clause only covers applications distributed through the Android Market, but the whole point of Android is that anyone can distribute any applications they like.

    Not quite as locked down as you think. The "App store" has the right to uninstall only the apps that it installed. I would imagine that Google is covering its ass in case someone releases malware or other potentially dangerous app into the Android store and gets downloaded by some unsuspecting users before anyone finds out. I doubt they'll remove legitimately useful apps "just because it competes with us". The resulting fallout would be enough to kill Android.

    And unlike Apple, you don't need to use the Android Market to install software.

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:3, Informative)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @11:18AM (#25400411) Homepage

    that's only for apps distributed through the Android Market. i'm assuming this functionality is so that Google can immediately remove bad apps which violate licensing agreements or can potentially damage the phone (or contain major security holes) from all handsets that have purchased the app through Google.

    presumably this will not affect non-Android-Market-installed apps. so if you want to install your own apps on the phone via another source you don't have to worry. is it a necessary feature? maybe not, but i can see why Google would reserve that ability.

    it really shouldn't be all that surprising. if you break Google's developer distribution agreement, then of course they're going to remove your application. so if you don't want to be restricted by Google's distribution agreement, don't distribute your application through their site.

  • Re:Not too helpful (Score:3, Informative)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday October 16, 2008 @11:54AM (#25400967) Homepage Journal

    Unless I'm mistaken, all iPhones can run the 2.x software, so why would he compare it to the original iPhone's software?

    Because he's comparing the first generation of this phone to the first generation of that phone. That's not unreasonable, given that Android will see major upgrades quickly, just as the iPhone OS did.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @12:45PM (#25401691)

    The Texas Hold'em App on iPhone would fill that entire memory space.

    Guess Android, or at least that phone, won't be having any fancy apps with lots of graphics or animations.

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:3, Informative)

    by davester666 (731373) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @02:57PM (#25403633) Journal

    "1) The source is open. They're not hiding it from people's view, like Apple's. People had to dig down for Apple's to find it"

    While the source for Android will eventually become available (as it isn't yet, and it will probably have binary bits), it only is useful if you can legitimately build and install onto the phone itself.

    Since the source isn't available, and there are no firmware updaters out yet, nobody can say for sure one way or the other, I'll bet T-Mobile won't make it easy for you to put a new firmware on the phone without these limitations...just like the iPhone.

    On the spectrum between totally open to completely locked down, the G1 is not that far away from the iPhone.

    And no, I don't have an iPhone and am unlikely to acquire either of these devices in the near future.

  • Re:Not quite so open (Score:5, Informative)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @04:03PM (#25404475) Homepage Journal

    Does OpenMoko even have an app store?

    Before you poo-poo the question, bear in mind you don't have to use Android Marketplace to install software on an Android phone [zdnet.com]. Android Marketplace is a trusted, easily accessible, application store. A kill-switch in that context makes sense, you've downloaded something from a trusted authority and it turns out it's malware, Google has an obligation to hit the kill switch or else at minimum destroy the credibility of the store.

    From the reports, it doesn't appear as if the kill switch applies to non-marketplace software, as the switch only applies - according to Google's ToS - to software that violates the GM developer agreement.

    I'm seriously not seeing the problem here. The phone is open - you can install anything you like on it. If you choose to have your hand held, Google will hold your hand for you, but you don't have to.

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